Status in Two Chekhov Stories
In the introduction to our edition of Chekhov's short stories, by George Pahomov, it is stated that Chekhov's fiction “captured the burgeoning Russian democracy” and that “in Chekhov's democratic world view, no one was excluded” (vii-viii). We see these ideals being put forward in the two stories by Chekhov that we will discuss in this paper. In these two stories, “The Resurrection” and “The Dance Pianist,” we can see how Chekhov depicts a world where the author's own democratic ideals may be in mind, but which is in reality still very much based on the old-fashioned concepts of status and rank. We will see that both of these stories center around the concept of social status, especially in the way that different types of people react to a sudden change in the social status of one particular character in each story. What these two stories have in common is that in both cases, the central character is the one suffering the sudden change in status, and having to tell the reader about it afterward.
“The Confession” is an early story of Chekhov's which deals with an unnamed, first-person narrator who tells the reader the story of how, one day, he received a small promotion at his work along with a small raise. He goes on to describe how this seemingly minor change in his life caused him to experience a sudden and unexpectedly intense shift in the way he was treated by people around him, who already had known him for almost his whole life. Not only does this sudden promotion change the way others treat him, it also shifts the way he perceives himself, leading him to take dangerous risks that will result in a disaster for himself.
At the beginning of “The Confession,” the narrator explains that “I was rejoicing over the promotion and the slight increase in salary, nothing more” (Chekhov 1). And yet, he also realizes immediately that “all at once people appeared to have changed” in his mind. Even one of his superiors,...
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